Me, that is a young professional with 2 kids, a partner, a house, a great grandmother I need to take care of, a separate garden … the list could go on. And I am sure; I am not the only one who has to struggle with work-life balance.
I am 27 years old, working as an Associate Project Leader in Clinical Trials. I have always wanted to be successful in my job. I have worked hard, completed my studies with straight A levels and started an awesome job, got 2 kids, and it seemed I have gotten forgotten. Now, being back at work after my second baby, I am more than ever confident that I will be successful. I know it will not be easy, giving the love my children and my partner need and deserve; and giving more than 100% daily in my job in order to fight me back up.
I had to turn down job offers due to distance and rigid working hours. The more grateful I am to work at a company which offered me a fully homebased contract and working hours as flexible as only possible – as long as the project is not at risk and the sponsor is satisfied I can basically work at any time. Additionally, the area of Clinical Research is mostly consisting of women and thus, the understanding and sympathy for children is present.
Nonetheless, it is not easy. Having kids means being extremely flexible, spontaneous, energetic and stress resistant. Almost nothing ever runs according to plan and adjusting your day again and again is nothing rare.
I questioned myself, how can I be successful in my career and still enjoy the beauty of being a mom. I have started to read books; I listened to other successful women or men who face the same challenges.
As a result, I came down to these 8 things:
- Even though days can go crazy with kids, having a routine and certain set time points in your day, will help you to cope with work and private tasks. Your kids as well will enjoy having a routine.
- I have started to set a routine for myself. Getting up at 5 am, bringing kids to the kindergarten at 7 am, starting work at 7.30 am, finish latest at 4.30 pm (if possible), run errands and pick up kids latest at 5 pm. I have started to dedicate my afternoons/evenings solely to my kids – no phone, no mails, no bills, no household. After 7.30 pm I do some household and from 8 pm to 9 pm I do what I enjoy.
- Making errors
- Becoming successful means you need to do work. Lots of work. Since no one is perfect, there will be mistakes anyways and trying to avoid them will only stress you out. Mistakes are nothing bad, if you only do them once. Mistakes are important to learn and to grow.
- I used to think I need to be perfect and only submit work once completely ready. However, once I accepted mistakes the results were amazing. I submitted my work earlier and had more time for other tasks which were left out before. My colleagues and the sponsor are also happy to see faster progress and are able to provide valuable feedback and input.
- Complete journals
- Many of us forget what we have done even 2 days ago. And even worse, we forget what we have done very well. Therefore, if we start writing down on a daily basis what we have done well during the day, we can go through it during tough times. We also start to recognize our own value and can sell ourselves better.
- I just started my journal a week ago. I still find it hard at times to find something I have done to be proud of during the day but I am more conscious now and it gets a bit easier every day.
- Especially women tend to multitasking. Concentrating on only one task at a time will however improve the results. Not only in job but also with your kids. Playing with your children half-hearted will neither satisfy them nor will it give you the joy it should.
- This is probably the area I need to improve most in. I just started meditating and hope it will help me to improve. I need to learn to not start 2 or even 3 things at the same time because I feel they are all equal important at the very same moment.
- Look for work
- I know we already have enough to do. But when you start entering discussions or take over additional tasks it will show your enthusiasm. It will not go unnoticed and at one point it will bring you the results you were looking for.
- I always have been interested in tasks outside of my job description. Thus, looking for work in addition to my actual tasks has not been a tough one for me so far. However, I find it hard sometimes to be seen and heard yet.
- Saying no/delegation
- This may be a bit in contrary to the point above but if we look more closely into it, it is not. We should look for additional tasks that can help us to improve but need to start saying no or delegate tasks which only take up time with little effect/result. Especially, if they do not correlate with our expertise.
- I am lucky to have a great and supportive team. Whenever, I feel something is not within my expertise I can ask around for support. At times I find it hard to differentiate between “looking for work” and “saying no” tasks but it gets better with practice.
- Never lose the joy in what you do. Enjoy your job, enjoy your children, enjoy the weather, and enjoy your family. Enjoy your life. If you don’t love what you do it will only take up all your energy and leave you exhausted and frustrated. So if you notice that you don’t do thinks with motivation anymore, ask yourself for the reason. Maybe it is that you need more challenging tasks, or your work-life balance got a bit out of balance or you realize the job you do is not what makes you happy. Once you found the source, a change can be tackled.
- Every time I feel I start getting annoyed of a task or feeling overwhelmed, I stop, take a breath, and try to find the aspect which is joyful. I also cut out some routine tasks which I found made me unhappy.
- Lifelong learning
- Learning should never end. Most of us, however, stop learning once they worked a couple of years in their job. Learning is not restricted to work related tasks or being up to date in the field, but also improving or finding new hobbies. How about learning to play an instrument, or doing some kind of sport? Or what about reading or gardening? There is so much to discover. Learning will help us to stay fit – brain-wise.
- I myself love gardening and reading books. I usually read one “fun” book and one “educational” book. Recently, I have started to learn more about finances, funds and shares. There is so much I want to discover, I always need to minimize my enthusiasm a bit in order to not overload myself.
As a mom you may need longer to reach the job you want but I promised myself not to give up. I am not frustrated anymore when my kids get sick and I need to be out of office for a week. I know I have a good team that will cover for me and the time off will give me more time with my little ones and help me to refocus on myself again. I do what I can at my job – but if I need to leave early for my family, I go without regrets. Because I know I have concentrated on my work, I have got things done and I have already done great things in the past (looking back in my journal).
Last but not least, we are all not machines and we cannot run on 100 plus % forever. I schedule breaks, as tiny and short as they may be, to only do things I enjoy. And let it be only to paint my nails or read through a magazine.
I strongly believe that one day, fingers crossed the day will rather come sooner than later, I will be able to take the next step in my career. Until then, I will stay strong and improve myself within the 8 steps above. Consistency is the key.
Last modified: October 18, 2018